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Adventure racing’s in Charleswood teen’s blood

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Reid Nelson’s favourite sport doesn’t involve a ball, racquet, or puck — just give him a bunch of obstacles, a map, and a compass, and he’s off.

The 17-year-old Charleswood resident took part in a 24-hour adventure race called the END-AR24 (Extreme North Dakota Adventure Race) in the Pembina Gorge from Aug. 24 to 25. Nelson was teamed up with two teenagers from North Dakota — Rosa Grijalva, 14, and Elizabeth Carr, 16 — as the only co-ed youth team in the race.

"There were a lot of participants from Winnipeg, but none of them were my age. The race trekker wanted to put together a youth team," Nelson, a Grade 12 student at Oak Park High School, explained.

END-AR24 is an annual adventure race that lasts 24 hours. Participants can ride bicycles, paddleboats, and run in order to complete the race. During the race, teams must race to checkpoints, and the team with the most checkpoints wins.

On the course, there are both mandatory and optional checkpoints, so teams can score more points by going to the optional checkpoints for bonus points.

"You had to get back by 2 p.m. the next day, otherwise you’re disqualified," Nelson said.

A total of 17 teams participated in the END-AR24. Nelson, Grijalva, and Carr earned 11th place, but they didn’t get enough mandatory checkpoints to be considered an official finisher, said Nelson’s dad, Vern.

In those 24 hours, Nelson said there was little time for rest.

"You could stop to eat for a few minutes, but there was definitely no sleeping," Nelson recalled.
Nelson also remembered that there were times he and his teammates bumped heads during the day-long obstacle course.

"We did go the wrong way a couple of times, which is mostly my fault," Nelson explained about his role as the team navigator. "That caused some friction between people, but we got there eventually."

Nelson has been doing adventure races for five years. His father brought him to the FortWhyte Alive’s EcoAdventure Race when he was 13 years old, and he was hooked.

"It sort of challenges the mind and body. You can be really fast, but if you go fast in the wrong direction, you’ll still be behind someone who’s walking. It levels the playing field," Nelson said.

Nelson plans on participating in the 36-hour adventure race in North Dakota next year.

For more information about END-AR24, visit endracing.com/end-ar


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